Verdict on Auschwitz: The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial 1963-1965
The only documentary about the Auschwitz Trial, which was held in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, from 1963 to 1965. In the courtroom, survivors of Auschwitz confronted perpetrators they had not seen for twenty years, many of whom had made comfortable lives for themselves in postwar West Germany. The whole world followed the dramatic proceedings, which were commented upon by such leading intellectuals as the American playwright Arthur Miller and Swiss author Max Frisch.
The trial was initiated by West German judge and prosecutor Fritz Bauer and was in preparation for five years. The first Auschwitz trial took place shortly after Eichmann was tried in Jerusalem. The court heard 360 witnesses from 19 countries (including 211 survivors and 54 members of the Auschwitz-SS) in proceedings against 21 members of the SS and 1 prisoner, accused of having taken part in the mass murder of millions of people. On August 20, 1965, after 18 months of hearings, the verdicts were pronounced in one of the most significant trials in German legal history.
The immediacy of the testimonies in this film yields a historically precise and absorbing time-capsule. The court proceedings were recorded on audiotape that were to have been destroyed after the trial. Filmmakers Bickel and Wagner located the 430 hours of material in the early 1990s that had languished in obscurity for decades. They present tape recordings along with extensive and exclusive original film material, original photos, and current interviews with witnesses and other people involved in the trial.
- Introduction by Barton Byg
- Filmmakers' Biographies & Filmographies
- Eyewitness: "The Investigation," by Peter Weiss
- Critical Essay by Werner Renz, Fritz Bauer Institute
- "Bringing the Auschwitz Trial to English-Speakers," by Sigrid Bauschinger
- "430 Hours of the Trial Captured on Tape"
- Index of Persons
- Chapter Overviews